I'm thinking of coming out - who should I tell?
To come out or not to tell?
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It’s easier if you’ve someone to back you up, someone who’ll fight your corner."
Most of you will have heard of the term “coming out” at sometime or other in your life. It’s the short form of the phrase “coming out of the closet”. It’s basically telling someone about your sexuality. If you are LGBTI+ or if you’re questioning your sexuality, the burden on your mind is enormous.
It’s often said a problem shared is a problem halved, so telling someone can often lift a weight off your shoulders. However, who/if/when you tell is up to you. It can remain your secret forever, but chances are that would require you to live a very sad and lonely life. Having done it before, and talked to other people who’ve come out as well, I’d like to offer you a little bit of advice.
Tell a mate first.
The best person, the person who’ll more than likely have no problem with it and indeed the person who probably already knows is your best friend. If you’re gay, chances are this’ll be a girl. For me anyway the majority of my friends are girls. With the help of your best mate, tell other mates. It’s easier if you’ve someone to back you up, someone who’ll fight your corner.
Talk to an adult you trust.
If you’re in school some excellent people to talk to are your guidance counsellor or your chaplain. Again, it’s up to you though. Your guidance counsellor or chaplain may not be someone you particularly like. Maybe it’ll be a youth leader or some other teacher. Someone who knows you really well, and would always accept you for who you are.
Talk to a helpline.
The best example is gay switchboard, where you’ll always find some one with a listening ear who knows exactly what you’re going through and probably went through it themselves.
Tell your parents.
This is the trickiest one. Some people will find it easy to tell their parents, others won’t. You’ll more than likely be afraid of what your parent’s reactions will be. This is normal.
Tips I would give are:
Don’t be on your own when you tell them. Have moral support from a close friend or relative.
Have a back up plan. This is an extreme measure, but have a place to stay in case something goes wrong and you need to leave the house for the night.
Expect the unexpected. When parents find out about their children’s sexuality, they go through a kind of grieving/guilt phase because they have to come to terms with the fact that you (probably) won’t be giving them grandchildren and they may try to blame themselves for your sexuality.
Reassure your parents. They’re more than likely ignorant of the subject. Try to explain to them that it’s not a choice you’ve suddenly made and it’s nothing to do with the way they brought you up, it’s just who you are. Explain to them that you’re no different today than you were yesterday when they didn’t know.
Give them time. There’ll more than likely be a phase where the subject isn’t mentioned, I’m still on that, but eventually they’ll come around. Remember that the plan they’ve envisaged for you has been changed slightly and they need time to adjust.
Like I’ve said, who you tell, if you tell, and when you tell is entirely up to you. You may need to get it off your chest, or you may survive till you get to college. The only person who can judge the right time is you. Listen to your heart and your brain.